About Jon Krakauer


Born in 1954, Jon Krakauer was raised in Corvallis, Oregon. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, he divided his time between Colorado, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest, supporting himself as a carpenter and commercial salmon fisherman. His primary focus as a young man was mountaineering, however, which inadvertently led to a writing career. His first book, EIGER DREAMS (1990), is a collection of climbing essays. Krakauer’s second book, INTO THE WILD (1996), about the perplexing death of Chris McCandless in the Alaska wilderness, spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list.

In 1996 Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest, but four teammates perished in a violent storm. An analysis of the calamity he wrote for Outside magazine received a National Magazine Award. The book he subsequently wrote about Everest, INTO THIN AIR (1997), became a #1 New York Times bestseller, and was one of three finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

As a tribute to his companions lost on Everest, in 1998 Krakauer established the Everest ’96 Memorial Fund at the Boulder Community Foundation with earnings from Into Thin Air. As of 2017, the fund has donated more two million dollars to such charities as the American Himalayan Foundation, Veterans Helping Veterans Now, SurvJustice, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center.

Krakauer’s writing has appeared in National Geographic, Rolling Stone, TIME, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and elsewhere. In 1997, the American Geophysical Union honored Krakauer with the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism for an article he published in Smithsonian.

In 1999 Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The award noted, “Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.”

Krakauer’s UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN: A STORY OF VIOLENT FAITH (2003), examines religious fundamentalism in the American West. While researching WHERE MEN WIN GLORY: THE ODYSSEY OF PAT TILLMAN (2009), Krakauer spent five months embedded with combat troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. 100% of Krakauer’s earnings from THREE CUPS OF DECEIT: HOW GREG MORTENSON, HUMANITARIAN HERO LOST HIS WAY (2011) have been donated to the “Stop Girl Trafficking” project at the American Himalayan Foundation.

In 2014, eighteen years after the publication of INTO THE WILD, Krakauer was the primary author of a paper titled “Presence of L-canavanine in Hedysarum alpinum seeds and its potential role in the death of Chris McCandless,” published in the peer-reviewed journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. The paper determined that the ingestion of toxic seeds was a key factor in McCandless’s demise, shedding important new light on the mystery of what killed him.

In a Los Angeles Times review of Krakauer’s most recent book, MISSOULA: RAPE AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN A COLLEGE TOWN (2015), Lacy M. Johnson observed, “Krakauer is a writer committed above all else to asking difficult questions…. Krakauer’s investigation will succeed in altering the conversation around sexual violence in ways women’s experience alone has not…. MISSOULA will undoubtedly fortify those of us who have already broken our silence and may rally those who have not dared to.”